Review and photos – Dandy Warhols 13 Tales Tour at the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, June 22 2013
– text and photos by Robyn Hanson
Have you ever gone to see a band in concert, only because you were really obsessed with one of their albums, and then spent the whole show hoping they’d play your favourite tracks off that album? Welcome to my relationship with the Dandy Warhols for the past 10 years.
I’ve seen them twice before, in 2003 and 2010, and enjoyed it, yes, but secretly wished to hear more off 13 Tales From Urban Bohemia, knowing it was an obvious pipe dream.
A decade ago, the Dandy Warhol’s third album, 13 Tales From Urban Bohemia was my soundtrack to summer. It lived in my stereo full time where I listened to it on repeat during those blissful carefree days, my companion to many a road trip. If asked what album I’d bring on a desert album, 13 Tales would almost always be on it.
At least back then, that was the case, but I still argue it’s just one of those albums that is solid from beginning to end, that has to be listened to in its entirety in order to be appreciated. And listen you should – it’s an incredible album, perhaps one of the most overlooked albums of the 2000s if I may be so daring.
The Dandy Warhols open with ‘Godless’
On Saturday night in Vancouver, the Dandy Warhols came onstage to ecstatic applause and launched right into the record’s beloved introductory trilogy: “Godless”, with its hypnotic rhythm, acoustic guitar, and irresistible trumpet melody; “Mohammed”, with its Eastern-influenced introspective psychedelic jam; and the shoegaze-y “Nietzche”. Each song melted into the next, leading to “Nietzche” climax of distorted guitar and vocal harmonies.
If that didn’t get the diehards going, “Country Leaver” – the foot-stomping country ditty about reconnecting with lost loves in foreign lands – certainly did.
The fans were certainly in good spirits, and fortunately for us, the Portland band looked happy to be there too. As they should, since it was the final night of their 13 Tales From Urban Bohemia Tour. Keyboardist/percussionist Zia McCabe was swishing her booty from behind the keys, waving out to adoring fans. Peter Holmström looking unrecognizably more Edward Sharpe than his typical Zoolander look, rocking it out on guitar behind the bushiest of beards.
Courtney Taylor Taylor sported a long braid, and also looked a little mellower these days, but certainly in top form – his chameleon voice flawless. Drummer Brent DeBoer, with his massive hair, rocked the drumkit from front stage while providing backing harmonies, intrinsic to much of the evening’s set. Two additional players (sorry, did not catch their names) played trumpet and guitar, adding even more fullness to the band’s already lush sound.
As they worked their way through the album, “Solid” – with its bright poppy hooks, its “ba-ba-ba-bahs” and its silly lyrics (“I must have a door at the back of my head”) – got people bopping along. It reminded me of the lighthearted nature of most of the band’s songs.
“Horse Pills”, with its Beck-esque execution, simply rocked, and “Get Off” got everyone bouncing with its catchy country-western tinged melody that simply builds, and builds, with everyone singing along: “All I want to do is get off, I feel it, I feel it, I feel it, babe.”
Next came the dreamy lullaby “Sleep”, complete with a backdrop of stars and galaxies. “Cool Scene”, which has always played the underdog on the album, brought us back with its sunny guitar licks, the perfect song to wake up to.
Superhit “Bohemian Like You” brought forth thunderous cheers. Perhaps there were more casual Dandy Warhols fans in the audience than I had originally guessed.
“Shakin’” brought Britpop spirit with Iggy Pop swagger, and “Big Indian”, their slower Western ballad, inspired a few in the audience to wield their lighters (yes, lighters!). The thirteenth and final track was the lulling, aptly titled “The Gospel”, which showcased Taylor Taylor’s impressive vocal range.
Overall, there were no surprises with their execution of 13 Tales From Urban Bohemia.
Following the album’s track list, the band launched into a handful of other songs, including an audience sing-a-long version of “Every Day Should Be a Holiday”, a track off of their sophmore album, ...The Dandy Warhols Come Down.
Taylor Taylor then introduced a Kristin Hersh song, “Your Ghost”, by citing “it’s exceedingly beautiful, AND it predates cellular technology.”
Another highlight included the dream-pop beauty of “You Were the Last High” off of their fourth album, Welcome To The Monkey House.
While all these songs received warm welcomes, it was just icing on the cake for this longtime 13 Tales fan.